Easter 2020 is over and even though it was celebrated different than in past years, it was still a very memorable day. Along with being Easter, it was my boyfriend and I’s 4 year anniversary! We actually went on our first date the day before Easter 4 years ago, and the rest is history. Four years ago I made this Italian Easter Bread for the first time and it’s made an appearance every year since! This year was a little extra special as we spent the day at our new house still as dreamy eyed in love as 4 years ago (and eating A LOT of bread). With a little extra time on my hands this Easter compared to years past, I decided to make not one but TWO types of breads! The first was our families Italian Easter Bread and the other was Hot Cross Buns.
I highly recommend making both! They are both yeast breads but the dough is much more foolproof. One of the reasons is the use of instant yeast, meaning you put the yeast with all other ingredients instead of placing it in warm water/milk to activate. Read on for the Italian Easter Bread recipe. The Hot Cross Buns recipe is compliments of King Arthurs Flour and can be found here.
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 ¼ cups warm milk
- 1/3 cup butter; room temperature
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 to 4/12 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 dyed, uncooked eggs (optional)
- Egg wash: 1 egg & 1 tsp water
In an electric mixing bowl, place the ingredients in the following order: eggs, salt, butter, sugar, milk, and yeast. Mix to barely combine. Add 2 cups of flour and mix using the dough hook. Scraping the bowl as necessary.
Slowly add 2 to 2 ½ cups flour while the mixer is running on low. Then allow the dough to knead on low until the dough is smooth and elastic; about 3-5 minutes.
Place about 1 teaspoon of olive oil in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Use clean hands to rub the oil around the bowl and with lightly oiled hands, place the dough into the bowl and turn once. This makes it so the dough will not get a crust while rising.
Cover and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled; about 1 hour.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 pieces. Use a silpat mat or clean granite slab to shape the dough. Working in two’s, roll each piece into an 8 inch rope and twist with a second dough rope. Connect the two ends and place the nest onto the prepared baking sheet. Continue until you have 6 dough nests.
Cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the oven is preheated and the dough is on its last rise, dye the uncooked eggs if desired.
Place an egg in the middle of each dough nest, brush with the egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you did make the bread with the egg, I recommend discarding the egg if not consumed within a few hours.